A former Hennepin County probation officer was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday for her part in the kidnapping and murder of a north Minneapolis woman in 2019.
Elsa Segura, 29, was found guilty in September of using a newly purchased "burner" cellphone and alias to lure real estate agent Monique Baugh to a bogus home showing in Maple Grove on Dec. 31, 2019. There, two men kidnapped Baugh before torturing her for information about the whereabouts of her boyfriend, who had a previous falling out with one of the suspects.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill sentenced Segura to life on the count of aiding and abetting premeditated first-degree murder. For two other counts — aiding and abetting attempted premeditated first-degree murder and aiding and abetting kidnapping — she was sentenced to nearly 17 years each, to be served concurrently.
Segura is the third of five suspects charged in the case to stand trial and, as prosecutor Paige Starkey had asked the court for, the third to be sentenced to life in prison. The previous two were Cedric Berry and Berry Davis, the men who kidnapped and killed Baugh and shot and wounded her boyfriend, Jon Mitchell-Momoh. Baugh, 28, left behind two daughters ages 3 and 1.
"We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Elsa Segura," Starkey said. "This family would never know this pain. ... And the law recognizes that, as it should. It recognizes that making a crime possible, even if they're not willing to pull the trigger, assisting others in committing that crime is equally worthy of conviction and punishment."
The judge agreed.
"Granted, your role was lesser, but the state is correct: It is still significant, because you could have stopped this from happening," Cahill said, speaking directly to Segura. "And so it is not an injustice to receive the same penalty as your co-defendants."
In her defense, Segura's attorney, Amanda Montgomery, had argued that Segura had set up the showing because she was in a psychologically and physically abusive relationship with another suspect charged in the case, Lyndon A. Wiggins, whose business relationship with Mitchell-Momoh soured several months before the murder. Montgomery said Segura made the call on Wiggins' behalf without knowing that it would lead to Baugh's murder.
Baugh's mother, Wanda Williams Baugh, denounced that defense in a victim-impact statement shared in the nearly 30-minute period leading to the sentencing.
"The defendant, she actually could have been a hero," Williams Baugh said through tears. "She could have warned Monique. She could have warned her that the showing was fake. The defendant had a choice and she chose to please her boyfriend by sticking to the plan."
Following Williams Baugh's remarks, a tribute to Baugh's life rolled on a TV screen, displaying her with family and friends. As the images of her childhood and adult life flashed on the screen, Beyoncé's "I Was Here" rang out in the courtroom. It was a song her mother first heard on what would have been Baugh's 29th birthday last year, Oct. 17.
"Oh, my gosh, I cried through the whole thing," she said about that first listen, her hand to her chest. "I felt like I felt her. I felt my baby."
Staff writer Chao Xiong contributed to this report.
Christina Saint Louis • 612-673-4668